Ford customers unhappy with their new cars have dropped the automaker from ranking fifth overall in satisfaction to 23rd in the just-released J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which reports on problems during the first 90 days of ownership. Lincoln also dropped significantly, falling from eighth to 17th.
According to Power, a big part of the reason for the drop is customers struggling with the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch dashboard control systems. Consumer Reports has found these systems to be cumbersome and distracting to use, causing several Ford vehicles, like the freshened Lincoln MKX and Ford Edge, to sink in our Ratings. The system also contributed to the low test score for the redesigned Ford Explorer.
My Ford Touch eliminates many conventional knobs and switches for various functions like climate and audio systems, and it replaces them with a combination of voice commands, touch-screen controls, and touch-sensitive dashboard buttons. We have found that the voice commands don’t always work, and the busy touch screen can be awkward and complicated to use. We’ve also had problems with slow response time and, once, the system rebooting itself while driving. Evidently, many Ford customers agree.
"Clearly, consumers are interested in having new technology in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure that the technology is ready for prime time," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Successful companies will be those that can take this incredibly complex technology and make it reliable, seamless and easy for owners to operate while they are driving. There is an understandable desire to bring these technologies to market quickly, but automakers must be careful to walk before they run."
Ford was the highest ranked mass-market brand in the J.D. Power survey last year, before MyFord Touch made its debut. The new survey marks the first time Ford has fallen below the industry average since 2006.
Ford tells us they are working on upgrades to MyFord and MyLincoln Touch to simplify some functions and improve the reliability of the system.
See our guide to mobile electronics.